Modern Women and Parisian Consumer Culture in Impressionist Painting

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Dezember 2006



This book examines the encounter between Impressionist painting and nineteenth-century consumer culture. Ruth E. Iskin explores the representation of feminine fashions, consumers, and sales-women in Parisian boutiques. She revises our understanding of the representation of women in Impressionist painting by refocusing the exploration of gender, from women's exclusion from the public spaces of modernity to their inclusion; and from the privileging of the male gaze to a plurality of gazes that includes women. Iskin also analyzes how paintings represent women as objects of display, and how they address women as spectators in active roles - as consumers, producers, or sellers - in a range of sites, such as the millinery boutique, the theatre, opera, café-concert and market stall. Considering a wide range of sources from nineteenth-century literature and visual culture, Iskin resituates Impressionist painting in the context of the culture of consumption.


1. Introduction: Impressionism, consumer culture and modern women; 2. Selling, seduction, and soliciting the eye: Manet's Bar at the Folies-Bergère; 3. Degas's dazzling hat shops and artisanal atelier: consumers, milliners and saleswomen, 1882–1910; 4. Inconspicuous subversion: Parisian consumer culture in 1870s city views; 5. Nature and marketplace: Zola, Pissarro, and Caillebotte; 6. The chic Parisienne: a national brand of French fashion and femininity.


Ruth E. Iskin holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has received the Andrew W. Mellon fellowship at the Penn Humanities Forum. Her publications include essays in The Art Bulletin, Discourse and Nineteenth-Century Contexts. She teaches art history and visual culture at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.


'Iskin wonderfully excavates the broad visual culture that emerged from consumerism in the second half of the nineteenth century in Paris and its deep connection to women's arrival in the public sphere. [Her] keen eye, guided by excellent historical contextualization, leads the reader to see how Impressionist art was bathed in the commercial ethos of its era and did not always stand in an oppositional relationship to it ... While respecting certain stylistic differences between the Impressionists and such artists as Gervex and Cheret, she makes a superb case for discussing these image-makers, who literally walked the same city streets. This book superbly demonstrates the value of seeing the history of art refracted through the lens of the broader visual culture in which it developed.' Vanessa R. Schwartz, University of Southern California, and author of It's So French! Hollywood, Paris and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture and Spectacular Realities 'Impressionist painting and Parisian consumer culture are both identified with the emergence of the 'new' or modern city of the 1860s and 1870s. Ruth E. Iskin's book offers a comprehensive, nuanced and persuasive account of the intersection and mutual dependency between the two in shaping the visual culture of the time. An important book which sheds new light on modern formations of gender, fashion, consumption, art and national identity.' Whitney Chadwick, author of Women, Art, and Society 'With a clear, elegant prose style, Ruth E. Iskin attends to details of social history as she analyzes the development of impressionist pictorial themes and figural types that captured for art the lived reality and the projected ideals of late-nineteenth-century Parisian society. This is a remarkably informative book, especially with regard to impressionist images of women ... so central to the advanced art of the era.' Richard Shiff, University of Texas, Austin, and author of Cezanne and the End of Impressionism 'This ambitious and revisionist book is sure to generate reappraisals of the Impressionist movement, the oeuvre of its individual artists and women's place in the public sphere of the late nineteenth century.' Heather Belnap Jensen, French Studies 'Ruth E. Iskin explores the complicated relationship between Impressionist paintings and the burgeoning Parisian consumer culture in which they were created, writing about fine artists and their fascination with the mass-made object. She charts the evolution of a symbiotic relationship between commercial and fine art ... [She] challenges us to find new ways of understanding Impressionist paintings and in particular the complex relationship between women and consumer culture that they construct ... This book would be of interest to anyone interested in or studying art history, social history, or gender issues in the nineteenth century. Iskin succeeds in adding new angles to the discussion in an already-crowded area of academic discourse ... [Her] study excels in making us rethink traditional gender paradigms of the late-nineteenth-century Parisian visual market.' Kiri Bloom, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century 'This is a thought-provoking book that introduces many new ideas and makes new connections ... It is an important resource for scholars of social, cultural, and art history as well as gender studies of the nineteenth century, while the extensive notes and works cited sections will be a valuable asset for studies of all types of consumer culture in Paris.' Charlene Garfinkle, H-Net Reviews 'There is plenty to engage with in Iskin's analysis of late-nineteenth-century consumer culture and its explicit or implicit manifestation in the works of Manet and the Impressionists. With contributions made at the levels of both background context and analysis of key works, the book is a welcome addition to the literature in this area and has something to offer readers who are new to, or well acquainted with, the field of French avant-garde painting of the late nineteenth century.' Kathryn Brown, Canadian Art Review 'Ruth Iskin's book has an ambitious goal: to re-establish the links between consumer culture and avant-garde art in late-nineteenth-century France ... The author's impressive parade of primary sources forces a new engagement with the works discussed - no small feat considering the existing wealth of scholarship on Impressionism, which includes her own work.' Natasha Ruiz-Gomez, The Art Book 'This is a wide-ranging, interesting and often original book. For specialist 'consumers' of nineteenth-century culture, [it] is a compulsory purchase.' Robert Lethbridge, Journal of European Studies 'Iskin's well-researched work is a significant contribution to Impressionist studies. Her argument is clear and convincing, through both its practical nature and the wealth of support provided through primary sources and the paintings themselves. Moreover, her work strengthens our understanding of the daily life of nineteenth-century Parisians, making it easier to imagine the actual streets, stores, and exhibitions through which Impressionists moved. As Iskin demonstrates, these painters witnessed the rapid development of mass consumption, and knowing this development is critical to understanding the visual stimuli of the modern world with which Impressionist painters engaged.' Francesca Bavuso, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 'This extremely rich book is brimming with new social and cultural information. [It] is required reading for specialists in nineteenth-century Parisian visual culture.' H-France Review 'It is a pleasure to witness Iskin's textual play of light on Impressionist painting, illuminating the consumerism hidden in plain sight.' The Art Book
EAN: 9780521840804
ISBN: 0521840805
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: Dezember 2006
Seitenanzahl: 283 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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